The girls had been busy with various things after school and had not explored this by the time I returned home. So we sat with them in the evening.
Sophia started off by doing the stick man, but she was not very happy with the amount of space it provided. She wanted to make a doll remember?
Anjali fiddled around for a but and said "Mom, can you give me those big round heads - like the ones you used for the emperor?"
So she made the gold rapunzel. and painted her.
Sophia made the rapunzel with gold and silver.
The question arises not just in art (where, unfortunately, the answer is a lot easier), but also in other disciplines, math, language, and very nearly everything that the child has to learn. The choice is somewhat easier in art because the idea of art is creativity, and exploration is encouraged. But does that mean that subjects such as Math and Science are not creative? When the whole society puts a heavy emphasis on creative thinking? Hold on... something is not clicking here.
What to do when there is a choice between exploration and exploitation? When I want Anjali to play a song on the piano and she wants to play or make monkey rules? When I want Sophia to sit put and she insists on walking all around while eating?
In the case above, i chose to let the children explore, and somehow facilitatate their exploration. However, I continued to do the originally planned activity, and at some point the children joined in, so the lesson that was planned for (I am not sure there had really been one), but the lesson that had been planned for was acheived, with a bonus.
I sat next to them and assembled the mobile. When I had finished, it looked super pretty and really wonderful hanging from the window, but the girls were so busy in their treasure hunting that they hardly gave it a second glance.
At work, I often have debates with my colleagues where the children learn best - in a supervised or unsupervised scenario. We all know that open ended toys work best and jigsaw puzzles, no matter how complicated they are, are not just as wonderful as lego blocks.
I guess I have somewhat meandered away in the writing of this post, but I guess the point that i am trying to say is that everyone has a Zone of proximal development (ZPD) when learning. Too far away from the zone you are either bored or you feel stupid. And this zone varies from child to child, even if they are the same age. Facilitating a session while taking the ZPD into account balances the senses of exploration and exploitation during learning and keeps the child alert.
It is not easy. Even knowing the ZPD for your own child, whom you are supposed to know inside out is difficult as children grow and change super fast.